Sleep Remedies for Children

Sleepless nights are a fact of life for the parents of newborns. Many infants are prone to sleep disorders that will keep the whole household up until the wee hours of morning. Difficulties in falling asleep easily and getting up frequently in the middle of the night are the most common manifestations of a sleep disorder. The lack of sleep will affect your child’s mood and behavior and in the case of older children may also lead to disciplinary problems at school.

The use of sleep inducing medications is usually not advisable in the case of children unless necessitated by an underlying condition. There are several natural sleep remedies for children that may be tried instead.

An understanding of the causes of sleep disorders in children will automatically suggest some simple remedial actions that can be taken at home.

On an average, children aged 6 to 12 years require up to 11 hours of sleep every night while teenagers require up to 9 hours of sleep every night.

One of the commonest causes of childhood insomnia is sleeping late. Children today have a whole range of activities that they can indulge in from within the confines of their rooms. Television, video games, cellphones, computers and personal music players can all play a role in keeping your child awake way past his or her bedtime which leads to inadequate sleep every night.  Coupled with the hectic schedule faced by kids and the stress school and homework place on them, it is no wonder that sleep disorders amongst kids is on the rise.

Other causes of childhood insomnia include sleep apnea, side effects of certain medications such as anticonvulsants and corticosteroids, asthma, eczema, depression and anxiety. The treatment for insomnia will depend on the underlying cause. For example, in cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the doctor may recommend the removal of your child’s tonsils or adenoids. In many cases parents are tempted to take a short cut and rely on prescription medicines to solve the problem. However, before resorting to these measures, parents should consider remedial action at home.

Home remedies to get toddlers or older children to sleep usually involve steps that parents need to take to inculcate healthy sleeping habits in their children. These include:

  • Calculate your child’s bed time based on his or her wake up time and the number of hours he or she needs. For example, if your ten year old child has to wake up at 8 am in order to get to school on time and requires 10 to 11 hours of sleep, then he or she should go to sleep by 10 pm at the latest.
  • Ensure that your child is asleep by the designated time by turning off the television and other personal appliances. This is something that should be enforced firmly on your child.
  • Avoid giving your child any stimulants such as colas or other caffeinated beverages for at least four hours before bed time.
  • Ensure that any condition that may cause disturbed sleep such as asthma is being treated in the appropriate manner as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Give your child a hot bath just before bed time. The heat will relax his or her muscles and promote sleep.
  • Food allergens including dairy, wheat, soy, corn and other preservatives should be eliminated from the diet.
  • Increase the quantity of vegetables and fruits in your child’s diet.
  • Dinner should consist of foods rich in carbohydrates and low in proteins and fats as this will help to induce sleep.
  • Give your child a multivitamin and omega-3 supplement every day.
  • Give your child a glass of tart cherry juice every day. It will lead to an increase in melatonin levels and induce sleep.
  • Herbs that may help promote sleep include chamomile, kava kava, valerian and rhodiola. Consult your doctor before giving your child any of these herbs.

If none of these measures work then you should consult your doctor regarding an appropriate course of action.